WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 11 granted a petition for a writ of certiorari filed by the North Carolina Department of Revenue after the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that it improperly taxed a family trust based on the in-state residency of a beneficiary (North Carolina Department of Revenue v. Kimberly Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust, No. 18-457, U.S. Sup.).
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Jan. 8 vacated a probate court judge’s ruling denying competing motions for summary judgment filed by a decedent’s wife and his adult children, finding that Massachusetts General Law Chapter 191, Section 15, which is intended to prevent spousal disinheritance, reduces a surviving spouse’s interest in the decedent’s real property from outright ownership to a life estate when the surviving spouse's shares of the decedent's estate exceed $25,000 (Susan Ciani v. Brenda L. MacGrath, et al., No. SJC-12531, Mass. Sup., 2019 Mass. LEXIS 2).
BOSTON — After holding that an estate showed a causal connection between a rehabilitation center’s negligence and a resident’s death from Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff.), a Massachusetts appeals court panel on Jan. 7 reversed a ruling dismissing the estate’s lawsuit and remanded the case for further proceedings (Eileen Moalli, et al. v. Genesis Healthcare, LLC, No. 18-P-400, Mass. App., 2019 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 16).
NEW ORLEANS — A trial court did not err when it denied a former employee’s request for a new trial on her claims that her firing constituted retaliatory discharge under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 13 (Elva Garza v. James A. Caplin, No. 18-40130, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 35108).
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Court of Appeals on Jan. 4 reversed a lower court’s upholding of an order requiring an irrevocable trust to pay $50 million to a conservator because the money was not part of the estate under Section 62-5-402(2) of the South Carolina Code (Peter J. Wellin, et al. v. Keith S. Wellin, No. 2016-001141, S.C. App., 2019 S.C. App. LEXIS 2).
COLUMBIA, S.C. — After finding that a mother did not unreasonably deny a grandmother visitation with her grandchild under state law, a South Carolina appeals panel on Jan. 4 vacated a family court’s order allowing for unsupervised visitation (Lori Brown v. Heather Key, No. 5610, S.C. App., 2019 S.C. App. LEXIS 5).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 8 held that the 25 percent cap for attorney fees prescribed by Section 406(b) of the Social Security Act (SSA) for attorneys representing individuals seeking old age, survivorship and disability benefits applies only to work before a court and not to the aggregate fees (Richard A. Culbertson v. Nancy A. Berryhill, No. 17-773, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Dec. 20 dismissed without prejudice a man’s lawsuit accusing his father’s long-term care insurance provider of unlawfully canceling his policy for failure to pay his annual premium, explaining that claims for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty are untimely and should be amended (Kesav Dama v. Prudential Life Insurance Company of America, No. 18-cv-03104, E.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 215738).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A ruling by the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an appeal holding that a back pay award in an age-based pension rate dispute was mandatory legal remedy directly conflicts with three pension cases already decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, Baltimore County, Md., argues in a petition for writ of certiorari filed in the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 13 (Baltimore County, Maryland v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 18-781, U.S. Sup.).
CHICAGO — An Illinois appeals court on Dec. 24 affirmed the dismissal of a man’s complaint accusing a life insurance company of fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment relating to his purchase of long-term care (LTC) insurance (Di Rito v. Metro. Life Ins. Co., No. 1-17-3202, 2018 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2315).
LINCOLN, Neb. — A Nebraska appellate panel on Dec. 18 reinstated a visitation action filed by grandparents requesting an official visitation agreement with their former daughter-in-law despite relinquishment of parental rights by their son, finding that a district court erred when it found that the action became moot when the father gave up his parental rights and the mother’s husband adopted the child (Dean D., et al. v. Rachel S., No. A-17-1260, Neb. App., 26 Neb. App. 678).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Dec. 26 primarily denied a motion to dismiss class claims filed after an insurer raised life insurance premiums, ruling that dismissal was appropriate only as to a portion of the plaintiff’s breach of contract claim and a portion of the elder abuse claim (Gail Thompson, et al. v. Transamerica Life Insurance Company, No. 18-5422, C.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 216312).
RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Supreme Court on Dec. 20 vacated a jury’s verdict finding that a man’s will was the result of undue influence, holding that the trial court judge erred when denying a woman’s motion to strike the claim and that the jury was improperly instructed (Vickie M. Parson v. Deneen L. Miller, No. 171393, Va. Sup., 2018 Va. LEXIS 198).
CHICAGO — In a Dec. 18 holding, a divided Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed findings by a Wisconsin federal judge that a claim for age discrimination levied by an employee against his former employer lacked evidentiary support (Gary Wrolstad v. CUNA Mutual Life Insurance Society, No. 17-1920, 7th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 35400).
BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court on Dec. 18 issued a substitute opinion in a will dispute involving undue influence in which it affirmed a magistrate judge’s decision to refuse admission of a disinherited daughter’s email sent after her mother’s death in 2013 because the executor of the estate was unable to redact hearsay from the email to render it a statement of interest on his behalf (In the matter of the Estate of Victoria H. Smith, No. 45313, Idaho Sup., 2018 Ida. LEXIS 216).
LOS ANGELES — An elderly man failed to sufficiently allege a cause of action against a title insurance company for financial elder abuse under the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act because there are no allegations that the title insurer owed a duty to the man, a California appeals panel held Dec. 12 (George Carr, et al. v. Chicago Title Insurance Co., et al., No. B284356, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 5, 2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8371).
CHICAGO — A lawsuit brought by three siblings accusing their stepmother of interfering with their testamentary expectancy by using undue influence on their father after a stroke in 2004 was dismissed by a federal judge in Illinois on Dec. 15 after he found that the claims in their federal court action had already been addressed in a state court proceeding in which the plaintiffs filed a petition to invalidate beneficiary designations and recover assets (Yusoff U. Allian, et al. v. Jean Allian, No. 18 C 3825, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 210932).
SAN FRANCISCO — The daughter and successor in interest of an elderly nursing home patient on Nov. 26 refuted amicus curiae briefs in support of the nursing home in a lawsuit alleging that it violated her father’s rights under California Health and Safety Code Section 1430, arguing to the California Supreme Court that none of the briefs demonstrate how interpreting Section 1430(b) to provide a maximum recovery of $500 per lawsuit serves the statute’s “legislative intent and purpose” (Janice Jarman v. HCR Manor Care Inc., et al., No. S241431, Calif. Sup.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Dec. 10 dismissed a woman’s claims that a county routinely engaged in policy that unconstitutionally challenged elderly individuals’ advanced health care directives (AHCDs), finding that challenging an AHCD is not unconstitutional and that she was unable to adequately allege that the county trained its employees to mislead courts (Judith C. Magney v. County of Humboldt, et al., No. 17-cv-2983, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 208142)
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The majority of a Fourth District California Court of Appeal panel on Nov. 27 reversed a trial court’s finding that California’s legalization of physician-assisted suicide is unconstitutional after determining that the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law (The People ex rel. Xavier Becerra, et al. v. The Superior Court of Riverside County, et al., No. E070545, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 2, 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 1081).